Saturday, October 03, 2009

Food for Sorrow

Change can bring much sorrow and not a little heartache but ultimately can bring about huge improvements in the quality of life. The trouble is that clinging on to the known usually seems more comforting than leaping into the abyss of the unknown change. An example is the way in which the British government skews our economy's support systems in favour of entrenched businesses like weapons manufacturers and car sellers rather than say favouring wind turbine makers on the Isle of Wight. This partnership between government which seeks to be re-elected which panders to popular opinion and people who seek to retain their home comforts, risks making many complacent and maybe even morally blinkered. This can have unintended consequence elsewhere perhaps on the other side of the planet. Whereas making the effort deliberately to change from the familar and cosy negative, to the less well tried, unfamiliar but possibly positive, could greatly enhance life at home and abroad.

Take arms sales: Many in the UK are employed by arms manufacturers and those companies also provide much needed facilities for research and scientific advancement. Clearly we have the right to defend ourselves but relegating that part of the economy from say the first to the third division would be a painful change not least for the nation's tax take and superficially at least prestige. However the fallacy is to omit to understand that the people and resources released by such relegation are not simply going to become moribund. Given the intelligence and energy of many of the people involved, new enterprises not concentrated so much on how to kill explosively and with massive consumption of oil, would be bound to be created - in time.

Resisting the need to change in this area risks other dark immorality eg of corruption. The Independent newspaper had an important piece on this yesterday which also highlighted how the Church ought to have a leadership role to play in steering the nation to change:


The cardinal could stand it no longer. Conducting the funeral service for a
prominent bishop in front of pews packed with his nation's top politicians and
business leaders, Polycarp Pengo, the head of the Catholic Church in Tanzania,
raged against the cancer of corruption eating away at his country. He urged all
decent people to join a crusade against the 'vices' of bribery and embezzlement.
He was right to be annoyed. A series of scandals have highlighted the growth
of graft in Tanzania. There have been calls for Benjamin Mkapa, the
globally-respected former president who was among those mourners a month ago, to
be prosecuted. And in a land where more than a third of people live on less than
£1 a day...

The costs of and payments associated with the supply of the
unneeded sophisticated radar system could have been used instead to provide food
for those on the verge of starvation in that country. Of course had change been
initiated miles away in the UK maybe the food would have been
provided. Before New Labour swept to power a few years
back, the
electorate was promised a changed emphasis for ethical foreign
policy especially
in the field of arms sales. As one who did not relish the
prospect of New Labour
generally, that was their main promise which caused
me to welcome the then new
Tony Blair government's arrival. Neither that nor
the current New Labour
government, has delivered on that major promise.

As the French might say:

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


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